Horticultural workers grow and sell plants in garden centres, and tend to plants in parks and gardens.
Salary range: £13,000 to £30,000
How to become a horticultural worker
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- applying directly
- training through a professional body
You could take a course at college. Relevant courses include:
- Level 1 Award in Horticultural Skills
- Level 2 Certificate in Gardening
- Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
You may be able to get into this job by doing a horticulture and landscape operative intermediate apprenticeship.
You can also do a packhouse line leader advanced apprenticeship, if you’re working on a horticultural production line, for example picking and packing plants and flowers to order.
You could move onto a horticulture supervisor advanced apprenticeship as you get more experience.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You can apply directly if you have experience of working with plants. You could get trained up on the job or develop your skills through a part-time course. Employers may ask for GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in maths, English and science.
You could do a training course through a professional body like The Royal Horticultural Society. Their courses can be done at a training centre, with some available by distance learning.
Getting experience and skills from working in related jobs like gardening, forestry or farming could be useful.
Customer service experience would also be helpful if you want to work in a garden centre.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to work on your own
- to be flexible and open to change
- persistence and determination
- physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
- the ability to work well with your hands
- physical fitness and endurance
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- sowing seeds, planting bulbs and ornamental plants
- growing plants from cuttings and by grafting
- taking care of plants – watering, weeding, pruning, feeding and spraying
- mowing grass, cutting dead growth and branches, and general tidying
- laying paths and looking after ornamental features
- researching new strains of seed and plants in the lab for crop production
- picking, sorting and packaging produce to be sent to retailers
- selling plants and other products
- advising customers in a garden centre
You could work on a country estate, in a park, in a garden or at a garden centre.
Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers.
Career path and progression
With experience you could progress to a supervisor or manager role, or set up your own nursery or garden maintenance business.
You could move into a research job for a university, or with a food and agricultural development company.